Sometimes disappointment is the best motivator.
At least that's the way the top-ranked Salem Hills volleyball team is choosing to look at its second-place finish in last year's 4A state volleyball tournament.
"We were so focused and so driven all summer," said Salem Hills head coach Kathy Treanor. "We practiced four days a week all summer. We just had this drive in us."
The disappointment of losing in that last match to region rival Timpview is not something the team sees as a negative experience.
"It inspires us and it fuels us," she said. "We want to be whole and we want to earn what we get."
Treanor understands her team is favored, but she's not sure how her region stacks up against the others.
"I think our region was good, but we're really just ready and excited to get on with this week," she said. "We're working really hard in practice and we're preparing to play. We're not taking anything for granted."
The Skyhawks open the tournament with either Logan or Timpanogos. If they win that first-round match, they could face Herriman or Highland in the quarterfinals. Salem Hills is led by senior outside hitter and UVU commit Macky Treanor (who happens to be coach Treanor's daughter), setter and Weber State commit Taylor Christensen and outside hitter Abby Bradshaw.
The 4A tournament features four undefeated region champions in top-ranked Salem Hills, second-ranked Sky View, third-ranked Westlake and fourth-ranked Woods Cross.
The Bobcats are led by a solid group of players, including senior outside hitter Maddie Day, junior outside hitter Taylor Duryea and senior setter Mandi Neild. The team was disappointed with its finish in last year's tournament.
"The girls have had the goal since the beginning of the year that they want to take first at state," said Sky View head coach Malayna Knowles. "They started out with smaller goals. … They just set goals on how they wanted to do, even for each match."
She said this year's squad is more mature and focused with senior leadership.
"A lot of them were part of the team last year and felt like they should have done better," she said. "They're anxious to get back in and try to redeem themselves."
Interestingly, the team faces one of the three teams that beat it this fall — Springville.
"We're excited to play them again, and we know every game we play at state will be a tough game," Knowles said. "I would like to think they're more mentally prepared to face tougher opponents in the tournament (than earlier in the year). They've upped their expectations, and hopefully that will get them ready for some increased competition."
Westlake is another of those undefeated region champs. The team is led by hitters Shianne Pace, McKenzie Weaver and Anella Hansen and setter Cecilia Johnson. The Thunder open the tournament with East, and if they win they could face Provo or Bonneville, both talented teams.
The Wildcats open with Murray and could face an extremely tough opponent in the second round if they manage to get past the Spartans. In the same bracket, defending champion Timpview takes on Region 5's second seed Mountain. Crest in what should be the most competitive first-round match of the morning.
The Wildcats are led by powerful outside hitter Chloe Hirst, Lindsey Tagge and setter Bryli Knell.Comment on this story
Perennial power Skyline will face a tough first-round opponent in Bountiful, and the winner will take on either Sky View or Springville in round two.
Both winners and losers play again later that afternoon, with the championship match scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. at Utah Valley University's UCCU Center.
Highland vs. Herriman
Logan/Timpanogos vs. Salem Hills
Springville vs. Sky View
Skyline vs. Bountiful
Timpview vs. Mtn. Crest
Murray vs. Woods Cross
East vs. Westlake
Bonneville vs. Provo